Street Foods in Lagos Nigeria West Africa

Street foods are popular in most cosmopolitan metropolis. Lagos, the commercial nerve center of Nigeria West Africa, is no exception. Unlike food trucks that exist on the streets of New York City, the roadside food vendors in Lagos operate from makeshift facilities ranging from an open charcoal grill on a small bench or table or a wheelbarrow full of fruits and vegetables to umbrella facilities tucked either directly on the street or on a sidewalk with sizzling grilled meats, vegetables or pastries sending their aroma all over the place.

Most often, these makeshift facilities obstruct not only pedestrian traffic but also vehicular traffic and contribute to some of the notorious traffic problems of Lagos. Street trading is very popular in Lagos. It is said that you could actually buy ‘anything’ you want in traffic or on the streets in Lagos.

These foods however fill a niche in the sense that street foods are cheaper than restaurant foods. They are fast, available on the go, and often affordable. You can make a choice of the size or portion of the food that you want. Restaurants are usually far away from most road traffic or offices and could be time consuming to order and sit down for a prepared meal. Street foods are usually on ‘the go’ and consumed as you walk away or in the car ensnared in traffic!

There is hygiene issue with these foods. They may be covered but most are open to the elements allowing dust, splashed mud and water particularly during the rains, flies and insects to settle on the foods. People touch them to find what they need thereby transferring germs from their hands to the food. Vendors tend to use their bare hands to receive the cash and handle the food simultaneously which forms a real potential for germ transfer. The surroundings are usually dirty.

It is a brisk business and some of the vendors swear about their ‘substantial’ income from these businesses. There is very little or no overhead. They generally transfer their makeshift facilities back to their homes or a nearby storage at the end of the day only to bring them back the following day. Some hawk their wares on their heads and go from store to store to ply their foods. They may carry a small stool allowing them some comfort as they move from station to station. I understand that there is some harassment by local law enforcement and health officials.

Foods sold this way include but not limited to fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, Agbalumo (African star apples), bananas, Ube (African or bush pear), Kola Nuts, bitter kola etc, fried foods such as Akara and Dodo, pastries or dessert foods such as the famous ‘puff puff’, donuts or doughnuts, meat and fish pies, fish, eja kika, shawarma, hotdogs or sausages, grilled foods on local grills such as chicken, Bole or roasted plantains, roasted corn or maize, yam, sweet potatoes, Ube (African or bush pear), suya (grilled meat on stick or kebab), fully cooked rice and beans with stew and Ewa Agoyin or local brown beans with stew. These foods are nutritious with careful selections but be suspicious of the hygiene!   

I have chosen to present a few of these street foods so that you can have an idea of what goes on, on the streets of Lagos.

Each of these foods are appropriately labeled on my dreamstime site https://www.dreamstime.com/mfomojola_info under street foods lagos. Enjoy!   

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Basilique Notre Dame de la Paix) Yamoussoukro

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), is a Catholic minor Basilica noted to be the largest church in the world. This magnificent edifice was built by the first president of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet-Boigny. The Basilica is situated on a piece of land which used to be part of Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s coconut farm in his home town of Yamoussoukro. The remnant of the coconut farm remains visible around the Basilica. Construction was started in 1985 and was completed in 1989. It was consecrated in 1990.

The approach to the Basilica is about 1 kilometer long. It is paved with marble centrally with asphalted driveway on either side circling the Basilica. There is a massive garden on either side of the driveway supposedly patterned on the gardens of the palace of Versailles in France.

The design of the Basilica is that of a Christian Cross. The Basilica is made of marble. There are two semicircular colonnades, patterned on the Doric colonnades of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in front of the Basilica. The two colonnades encircle a large dove image imprinted on the floor of the massive forecourt, perhaps signifying peace which is the central theme of the Basilica. The two colonnades lead to a large rectangular porch or façade which forms the lower portion of the cross. Columns are plentiful and are of non-uniform design. There is a terrace on top of the porch supported by huge columns; a favorite spot for visitors.

The nave of the Basilica is round and can seat 7000 worshipers. There is also room for additional 11000 standing worshipers resulting in a total capacity of 18,000. The nave is free standing under the dome. The dome is supported on columns. The stained glass atop the dome has a dove inscribed centrally.

There are several unique features of the Basilica among which are the curvilinear wooden pews made of hard African Iroko wood, individual air-condition vent in the pews, the African design incorporated into the canopy over the altar, extensive amount of stained glass windows and doors, unique stained glass images and or names of those involved in the concept, design and building of the Basilica, a wooden sculpture of the ‘Notre Dame De Tout le Monde’ and the tallest dome in the world if you consider the huge ornamental cross on top of the dome.

My guide told me an inspirational story about the ‘Notre Dame de Tout Le Monde’. This wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary was conceived by an incarcerated Muslim criminal in Yamoussoukro prison. Apparently, this individual had a dream in which he had a conversation with the Virgin Mary. He reasoned that if the Virgin Mary could appear to him, a Muslim, She obviously belonged to the whole world and not to Christians alone. He decided to erect a sculpture to the Virgin Mary; Our Lady of the Whole World.

There are two identical large mansions on the back end of the Basilica; one serves as the residence for the Pope and the other serves as the rectory for the rector and administrators of the facility. A 250 bed children’s hospital is located on the east side of the facility.

I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to photograph this unique Basilica which I believe is a unique gift to Christendom and the African continent. I am also grateful for the opportunity to meet with the rector Rev. Fr. Frank, his assistant Irene and the seminarian, Peter. Attending the Good Friday Passion of Christ and service at the Basilica is the highpoint of my Christian life.

 My hope is that this Basilica will become a rallying point for Catholics on the African continent and a place of pilgrimage for many more people from around the world.

More information could be found at;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_Peace

www.cotedivoiretourisme.ci/.../612-la-basilique-notre-dame-de-la-paix

Ado Ekiti Butterflies

I have grown to like butterflies, such beautiful and delicate creatures. My initial exposure to butterflies was at the urging of my niece. I have since photographed butterflies at protected facilities. I have written two children’s books using some of those photos.

This collection represents my first attempt at photographing butterflies in the wild. The location was along Omisanjana road in Ado Ekiti Nigeria. It was a totally different experience. I understand most entomologists have to capture the butterflies to identify them. I am not an entomologist. All I want to do is to have fun photographing these beautiful creatures without harming them.

The butterflies I encountered on this shoot were totally different from the ones I had seen and photographed in North America! It was really hilarious running after these insects with the distinct barriers of the bush and vegetation between us! I have since learned that some of these are native to the tropics and West Africa specifically. The butterflies were more active in the mornings than any other times of the day. Chasing them was fun with their definitely unpredictable behavior in their natural habitat, flying around, resting on leaves and lawn, feeding on rotten mangoes, nectar  and pollen, or just enjoying the company of each other, hanging out! Some have damaged wings while most look beautiful with normal wings.

High definition photos and posters of these butterflies are available upon request.